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Easter to skipper England

Nick Easter will captain England against Ireland in Saturday's RBS Six Nations Championship clash after Mike Tindall was ruled out with an ankle ligament strain.

Matt Banahan will make his second Test start at outside centre in place of Tindall, who was injured in England's 22-16 victory over Scotland last weekend.

Saracens wing David Strettle, whose last Test appearance for England came against New Zealand on the 2008 summer tour, will fill the vacant back's position on the bench.

Johnson has otherwise kept changes to a minimum as England seek a win which would clinch a first Grand Slam since 2003. With Banahan starting, the England manager will have used only 17 starting players in the championship.

Leicester flanker Tom Croft remains among the replacements, despite marking his comeback from a fractured shoulder with a try-scoring appearance off the bench against Scotland.

Easter, who took over the leadership reins when Tindall was forced off at half-time against Scotland, first captained England in a Test match in last November's victory over Samoa.

That was also the game in which Banahan, 24, made his first Test start at outside centre after winning his first five England caps on the wing.

England team: B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), M Banahan (Bath Rugby), S Hape (Bath Rugby), M Cueto (Sale Sharks); T Flood (Leicester Tigers), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), L Deacon (Leicester Tigers), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Wood (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (Stade Francais), N Easter (Harlequins, capt).

Replacements: S Thompson (Leeds Carnegie), P Doran-Jones (Gloucester), S Shaw (London Wasps), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), D Care (Harlequins), J Wilkinson (Toulon), D Strettle (Saracens).

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